Beijing artist Li Yongfei is known for his traditional ink brush painting, which he often uses to depict contemporary themes. Zhu Dan commissioned this painting a few years ago for the living room of their new Beijing apartment after meeting the up-and-coming artist at an exhibition in that city. “I really liked his style,” Dan says, adding that the two spoke that day about commissioning a piece. She measured the space, determined the size of the painting, then met with Li to talk about colours and themes. Dan loves fish, which symbolize good fortune, so the artist incorporated them into a dreamy waterscape. “I wanted the painting to feel like a story so you could picture yourself looking into the water and it flowing around you.”
Li often uses traditional ink brush painting, but his themes reference more contemporary aesthetics and fashion. He is seen as part of a new wave of Chinese artists whose work reflects a more globalized age influenced by both East and West. A few years ago, some of his pieces appeared in Secret Love, a travelling exhibition that explored the rapid change taking place in Chinese society. Identity, norms, and sexuality were key motifs.